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  • Purpose and Scope

    The New Jersey Trails Plan presents a renewed vision, goals and strategic actions to help guide the efforts of all those who plan, build, operate and main- tain New Jersey’s trails. Building on earlier statewide Plans, the Plan reaffirms the importance of providing trails for all and emphasizes the value and wide range of benefits that trails offer. The Plan is a guide to those who must make decisions regarding the funding and development of trails, from the state to the local level. The New Jersey Trails Plan serves as a common ground for all to achieve these two conditions for success – funding and cooperation.

    This Trails Plan builds on the earlier New Jersey Trails Plans from 1982 and 1996. It assesses a broad range of needs, desires, topics and issues from the standpoint of both trail users and trail providers. A Plan Advisory Committee (PAC) representing trail user groups and public and private organizations guided the Plan. Based on the needs, desires, topics and issues raised during the planning process, the Plan establishes a Vision for trails in New Jersey, proposes Goals for fulfilling the Vision, recommends actions and activities to achieve the Goals, and assigns roles and responsibilities for implementation.

    This Executive Summary highlights the results of a multi-year planning process and includes recommendations of the New Jersey Trails Plan.

  • Overview

    Trends show increasing interest in trail use of all kinds, and more benefits are recognized today than ever before. Health benefits from more active living elevate the value of trails in communities, where many can access trails on a daily basis for both recreation and transportation. Economic benefits are well established and diverse, from increasing property values and local business revenues to generating tourism. Trails can act as green spaces that preserve and protect the environment, and can become venues for education about our natural and cultural resources.

    Public outreach included Open Houses, Vision Workshops and a variety of surveys to guage public opinion and guide the planning process. This chart summarizes responses to one question from approximately 3700 survey respondents.

    The Plan affirms the key issues and needs facing New Jersey’s trails: • Funding – greater funding for all phases of trail development • Facility Needs – more trails for more and diverse trail users • Sharing Trails – more trails dedicated to specific uses • Motorized Trail Uses – more venues for motorized trail use • Urban Trails – more urban trails for recreation and transportation • Special Needs Trails – more accessible trails for sensory and mobility impaired users

    • Guidelines & Standards – coordinate and standardize planning, design and maintenance

    • Trail Rights-Of-Way – facilitate land and right-of-way acquisition (esp. for rail and utility corridors)

    • Information and Promotion – more complete and accessible trail information

    History of New Jersey’s Trails

    (NJ Trai ls Coun

    cil Refo rm)

    (8 Trails Added

    to Trails System

    )

    Trails in natural, rural, suburban and city settings are all part of New Jersey’s trail networks

    with unique characteristics and needs

    The Trails Plan defines trails broadly to include a wide range of facility types: • Hiking/Foot Trails • Bicycling Trails/ Bike Paths/ Recreational Touring Routes

    • Mountain Biking Trails • Equestrian Trails • Water Trails • Winter/ Snow Trails * Off Highway Vehicle Trails

    Top Trail Issues

    Quality of Trail Facilities (19%)

    Safety and Security (4%)

    Inadequate Support Facilities (10%)

    Lack of Information about Trails (13%)

    Other (8%)

    Overcrowding (12%)

    Accessibility of Trails (9%) Lack of Trails (25%)

  • A shared vision promotes collaboration towards common ends. Vision Themes describe an ideal future for New Jersey Trails, each focusing on a different aspect of the Vision. The Plan sets Goals for each Vision Theme, along with Recommendations for strategic short or long-term actions. A summary of the Plan’s recommendations are presented on the following pages.

    Priorities for Implementation: Early implementation of Plan recommendations will focus on five priority areas:

    Community Pathways

    Establishing community pathway networks is a priority for New Jersey, with a goal of providing a walking trail within ten minutes of every resident. Community pathways are trails within and among cities and towns that connect neighborhoods, parks, schools, workplaces and other public destinations, and are conveniently integrated with sidewalk and street networks. Because of their convenience and location within population centers, community pathways can be used by many people of all ages and abilities for recreation and transportation.

    Trails and Health

    Trails can provide an essential health infrastructure for a community. Use of trails for positive health outcomes is being seen more and more by health professionals as an excellent way to encourage people to adopt lifestyle changes that will bring lifetime health benefits. Trail promotion should routinely emphasize public health benefits, and the public health and medical community should be encouraged to participate in trail promotion programs from the state to local levels. More coordination between the trails and the health community is needed to realize the mutual benefits of this connection.

    Comprehensive Trail Inventory

    Complete, convenient and accessible trails information is essential to guide the public in using trails and decision-makers in assessing facility needs and priorities. A comprehensive trails inventory would provide the public with readily available information about the location, type, length, challenges/difficulty, accessibility, uses, restrictions and amenities associated with each trail. Federal, state, county and trails organizations that provide and manage trails should share the responsibility for the inventory of trails within their jurisdictions, coordinating the results through a lead organization.

    Vision “New Jersey residents value the diverse networks of trails throughout the state, well

    maintained facilities within cities, suburbs and countryside. Everyone has access to a

    full range of outdoor recreation activities and transportation alternatives within and

    among communities, and quality trail experiences.”

    • Trails for All - All types of trail users have access to sustainable recreational trails throughout New Jersey.

    • Trails for Community Connections – An extensive network of community pathways for transportation, recreation and health are convenient to people of all cultures, ages and abilities within cities and towns.

    • Maintenance and Operations - New Jersey is renowned for the quality of its well maintained and managed trails.

    • Funding - Funding is available and accessible for all levels of trails planning, development and maintenance from a variety of public and private sources.

    •Trail Advocates and the Trail Experience - Trail advocates representing every type of trail use cooperate to support and advance New Jersey trails.

    • Information, Communication and Promotion - Public awareness and access to trails information is at an all time high as a result of outreach efforts to the general public, decision-makers, trail advocates, and trail providers.

    • Planning and Development - State, regional, county, local and non- profit groups in New Jersey routinely come together to plan and implement trails projects.

    Vision Themes Imagine…

    (continued on back)

  • 1 – TRAILS FOR ALL

    Needs Assessment:

    1) Conduct a Statewide Trail Needs Assessment continuing the work of the Plan through a general public survey to statistically validate priorities (Trails Council, Consortium of Trails Groups)

    Trail Development Priorities:

    2) Prioritize trail development to address facility supply deficiencies based on needs assessment (State, Counties, Municipalities)

    3) Accelerate ROW acquisition and development of multiple use trails, especially on rail rights of way (State, Counties, Municipalities)

    Expanding Trail Development Opportunities:

    4) Identify opportunities to provide sustainable trail access on publicly preserved open space (Counties, Municipalities)

    5) Incorporate potential trails use into the Farmland Preservation Program (State)

    6) Encourage private landowners to make land available for public use (Trails Organizations)

    Facilities For All Trail Activities:

    7) Increase trails accessible to the mobility and sensory impaired throughout New Jersey (State, Trails Council, Trails Organizations)

    8) Collaborate to establish water trails facilities throughout New Jersey and raise awareness of water trail opportunities (State, Trails Council, Trails Organizations)

    9) Collaborate to establish OHV riding facilities, education programs and registration programs (State, Trails Council, Trails Organization)

    2 – COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

    Trail Development Priorities:

    1) Complete key linkages to establish trails continuity (State, Counties Municipalities)

    2) Acquire rights of way and provide trails that connect residential areas with community destinations – parks, trails, schools – and that connect neighborhoods and communities (Counties, Municipalities)

    Expanding Trails Opportunities:

    3) Establish state regulatory or legislative means